Thursday, April 30, 2015

Z is for COVER REVEAL!!


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So as you can see from my using a country and the last letter of a story's title for my last two days, I've run out of characters. I could probably use another character from my fantasy series, but I've milked that one enough, so instead I'm going to share something I've been meaning to show you all month... the cover of my upcoming debut novel, Ten Thousand Days!

For those who missed it, here's the blurb:

They say love hurts and time heals all wounds.

Sometimes the reverse is true.

Isaac was very good at wasting time. Video games, a mindless job, no responsibilities - he had a simple life and few wants. Despite being hopelessly average, unassuming and kind of useless, he had somehow married the most beautiful, wonderful woman in the world.

He had no idea how good he had it - until it was all taken away.

Time does not like being wasted. It is mercurial, inexorable and carries a wicked grudge. And sometimes, just sometimes, it enjoys playing games with people's lives. To be perfectly honest, Time is a bit of a jerk.

Isaac had never learned to appreciate what little time he had, and now he must travel to the ends of the universe and face unspeakable evils in a cat-and-mouse game with Time itself for the slim chance to win back a few fleeting seconds of happiness. The price of failure? Only the end of all existence.

Ten Thousand Days is a fairy tale set in the modern day, a fantastic journey of desperate love and horror with a twisted sense of humour. It's a story of exactly how far a young man will go for love...


It will be available on Amazon and Kobo veeeery shortly. Honestly, I was hoping to announce the official release date today. Everything is ready except for one small detail... I'm waiting for Amazon and the IRS to process my tax paperwork. See, as I'm a Canadian publishing through an American company, Amazon will automatically withhold 30% of any sales I make until they can confirm I am actually a Canadian as I claim I am (Canada and the US has a tax treaty, so I don't have to pay US taxes on stuff like this, only Canadian - as long as I fill out the paperwork). So, I'm waiting for that paperwork to go through, then we're off to the races!

But anyway, you don't care about tax treaties and international economics, you just want to read my book! I promise, if you watch this blog, or follow me on Google+ or Twitter, you will be the first to know.

Thanks for sticking with me the last few weeks, reading about characters you haven't (or even been able to) read about before. Hopefully if you stick around just a little bit longer, you're actually be able to read the full thing...
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Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Characters You've Never Heard Of: YENRAH


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Chakram, the once-glorious capital of the once-glorious kingdom of Sem, was always cold now. Across the Black Moor, a hundred leagues to the South, a great evil was growing in the desert wastes of the land known as Yenrah. For ten years, Paice had devoted his life to fighting this evil, to protecting his country, his king and his family, but even as Paice’s own loss struck a crippling blow to his heart, so had the enemy struck a crippling blow against his kingdom: the weather and the very land itself were betraying the good people of Sem.

First the darkness came. Great clouds of inky blackness rolled out of the South, covering the sky for first days, then weeks at a time, blocking out the sun and draining all life and heat from the land. Crops died, plants and trees withered, and hope was lost. Just the day before, a light snow had fallen. Snow, in the middle of what should have been summer.  The world was changing, the tides of battle were turning, and the enemy was winning.

-from the unfinished manuscript "The Tears of Sem / The Shadow of the Wasp"

* * * 

Confession: Yenrah is not a person, it's a place. It's the name of a vast, mostly-desert kingdom that appears in several of my epic fantasy novels, stories, and games. (So sue me, I've been doing this for a month and I'm running out of characters).

Yenrah is an old land, and it wasn't always a desert. During the time of the Wasp King it is bordered by the Black Moor, a swampy, rocky expanse of bogs and hills. By the time of Wilhelm the Liberator, over 500 years later, the Moors have been swallowed up into the ever-expanding desert.

Before
(Source)
The cause of the change is the Desolation, a super-heated wasteland of unfathomable horrors south of "modern day" Yenrah. The Desolation has existed for time out of time, and it is said to be the home of all the monsters in the world as well as their dark gods. It is also slowly spreading and has been for millennium - except at some point between the time of Rigel & Valya and the time of Gregory & Queen Esmiralda there was a great, rapid expanse that absorbed the Moor bordering Yenrah and turned a once wet and dreary English countryside into a sun-drenched afternoon in the Tunisia. I haven't explored the exact reason for the change, but I'm sure I'll hit at some point during my overly-ambitious-and-sure-to-never-be-finished-saga.

After
(Source)
I suppose it is like a character, in some ways. It's a living, breathing, changing thing, that challenges the heroes and takes on a life and personality of its own. Not to mention I use way more words to describe it than most of my characters.
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Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Characters You've Never Heard Of: X is in "MailboX"


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I was walking home from work tonight (or, more appropriately, early this morning) and I found a mailbox turned on its side on Spring Garden Road.  My mother-in-law would have called it "arse-over-kettle."  It was one of those big red Canada Post bins, the kind that weighs a ton and certainly don't just fall over by themselves.  Someone must have pushed the thing over, and this was one of the worst kinds of vandalism I can think of.  I don't care if people tag walls or even bang up street signs, but messing with the mail is just wrong.  You never know what kind of important stuff could be in one of those things: welfare checks for single mothers, letters from kids to their recently-discovered biological parents, who knows?  It really frustrates me whenever I think of people who are so selfish and ignorant to do that to people.  The kid that did it probably did it on a dare, or maybe some hopped up junkie kicked it in a hallucinogenic daze.  Whatever the case, I couldn't help it; I had to struggle with the box and drag it back right side up.

There was a lot of snow on and around it.  A plow must have come by at some time in the night and nearly buried it in the snow bank.  I wiped off as much as I could but I'm afraid that some got inside.  I don't want to think about what it may have done to the contents of the box.  How many letters might be ruined, completely soaked through so their contents are unreadable? Those cheques and love letters may never make it to who needs them the most. No one ever thinks about who they hurt when they do stuff like that. 

Everyone is just so selfish.

- from the unpublished short story, "The Mailbox"

* * * 

Okay, I really had to stretch for "X." Apparently I just don't have any characters (or even stories!) starting with the letter "X." Funny that.

Anyway, The Mailbox is a silly story I wrote based on a real life moment, the exact moment I described in the blurb above. I was on my way home from work one day and I just happened to see a mailbox lying on its side. I was suddenly struck with the idea for this story, about what might have happened to the letters inside that mailbox.

There are two characters worth mentioning in "The Mailbox." One is Kylie, a regular young woman who gets stood up by her friend and ends up waiting on a cold street corner. I think she spends several pages cursing her friend. She then bumps into a handsome young man (literally), they hit it off and she walks away with his number. In her excitement and reveling in her turn of luck, she slips and knocks over a mailbox.

The other character is Mose, an old, retired gentlemen living in a retirement home. He's gone a bit senile but is very happy and loves to talk about his wife who lives away with their kids and grand kids. He's waiting for a letter from her to say when she's coming to move into the home with him. Of course, her letter is mailed on the day Kylie knocks over the box, and it's one those that's ruined by melting snow and never makes it to its intended recipient. Mose keeps waiting a long time for that letter, but some other things happen in the meantime and, well, I won't spoil it for you...

I meant the story to be touching and sad, but it might have been a little heavy-handed. I'm sure you can see where it's going. It was one of those rare stories that I write without a plan or purpose, just based on a random passing thought. I have no idea if it worked or not....


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Monday, April 27, 2015

Characters You've Never Heard Of: WISCONSIN, PARALLAX


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Our guitar-player is not so well off.  His name is Parallax Wisconsin, and his parents are the two nicest, sweetest, most normal people you could ever meet.  It’s amazing how he ended up as fucked up as he did.  He’s an alcoholic, mildly delusional, and extremely apathetic about life.  Even worse, he’s a skater, and that alone makes him scum.  He keeps blaming his parents for all of his problems, and they keep calling us asking where he is because apparently he never goes home.  We have this theory that maybe his parents aren’t so perfect, that they’re really involved with child slavery in South America and they keep Parallax locked up in a closet in the basement and beat him with a vacuum cleaner hose, so that’s why he never wants to go home.  Did I mention that he’s a kleptomaniac?  One of our favorite pastimes is to get him drunk and let him lose at Wal-Mart.  It might be cruel, and I always feel bad afterward, but there’s nothing funnier than watching our 5'2" drunken guitar-player try to sneak out of the sporting goods department with a canoe oar under his jacket.

- from the notes for the unpublished "Diary of a Failed Rock Star"
This is a weird one.

Many years ago, when I first set out to write a serious novel, I worked with an acquaintance (it would be a huge stretch to call him a friend) on a book about his life as a wannabe rock star. I don't talk about it much because he's been gone awhile and I don't know if I can ever share the story, but as I was going through old notes and manuscripts for A-to-Z, I found not only the book but the original notes he transcribed to me.

John was a strange guy. He probably still is, I haven't seen him in a long time. The characters in the book are all based on people he knew with their names changed. Parallax "Perry" Wisconsin is one of them. I knew some of the parties involved, but not Perry. He may not even be a real dude.

That's why it's so weird. I'm not sure which parts of the story are true and which parts are stuff John made up (or hallucinated). I know some of it is exaggerated but I was also there for some of it, so yeah. I don't know what to make of it. I only crammed it in here because I needed a "W."

As a bonus, here's the lyrics to one of their songs, which conveniently also starts with "W." I no longer have the CD and I can't find another copy of it anywhere. John probably has it, maybe I'll track him down one of these days.

WRONGED
Lyrics by Vlad Frederick Knight
I am guilty
Please forgive me
I have broken
Something sacred
I have taken
Love for granted
Now I’m falling
Will someone catch me?
I loved once but I loved not well
Fate had no hand I destroyed it myself
I wronged you but now you’ll never tell
I hide my face and crawl into my shell
You are a china doll I crush beneath my heel
White shards of glass are dead, can’t feel
You gave me your heart and cry your bloody tears
I’m the fucking bastard who broke the sworn deal
I am guilty
Please forgive me
I have broken
Something sacred
I have taken
Love for granted
Now I’m falling
Will someone catch me?
Our love was like fireflies mating
Burning angels falling from Heaven
You lifted me up but I let you down
Eventually we had to hit the ground
The eyes I use to see are not mine
Vision is learned we are all born blind
We see what we want we can’t fight Fate
First you have to love before you learn to hate
I am guilty
Please forgive me
I have broken
Something sacred
I have taken
Love for granted
Please forgive me
I will do it again
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Saturday, April 25, 2015

Characters You've Never Heard Of: VALYA


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"Most men would have been terrified, hanging upside down with nothing but a thin silk rope between them and a gory death on the marble floor forty feet below, but Valya was not a man. She was a young woman of barely eighteen winters, little more than five feet tall and born of noble blood. 

She did not even break a sweat.

Did stablehands shake with terror when they groomed their horses? Did blacksmiths live in fear of their forges and anvils? No, they did not. Through this knowledge Valya had long since deduced that if they did not fear their vocations, then she would not fear hers."

- from "In the Shadow of the Wasp," an anthology containing the tale "Valya's Story"

* * * 

Valya comes from the same series of stories about hopeless love as Rigel (the story that made my wife fall in love with me). She was a noble woman who fell in love with a man her family did not approve of, and so they had him conscripted into the army and sent him off to his death. She rebelled and fled her pampered life to become a highly skilled and motivated thief and rogue who terrorized the nobility by stealing or destroying that which mattered most to them more than the happiness of their own children - their riches.

The four stories that comprised "In the Shadow of the Wasp" are kinda the Silmarillion to my fantasy world. Not to compare myself to Tolkien by any stretch of the imagination (though I kinda did that once), I just mean that those stories introduced a ton of ideas, elements, themes and characters that keep creeping into my stories and games twenty years later. The epic fantasy novel sitting in The Closet that I mentioned earlier this month is set in the same world, though many generations after the reign of the King of Wasps, and that novel has at least two sequels sitting in my head (I think I said last week there's a potential 7 books altogether). Of course it's also the world where many of my Dungeons & Dragons-style role playing games are set, and there's even a chance that the stories started as a D&D session - I don't remember anymore, they were developed pretty closely hand-in-hand.

So anyway, because I don't think I'll use the characters from the other two stories in this month's edition, I'll give you a bonus today and reveal them to you:

Lord Paice - You met him briefly yesterday. An older man, one of the greatest heroes and defenders against the King of the Wasps. When his daughter is killed by his greatest rival, one of the King's most trusted lieutenants, Paice goes on a one-man suicide mission to avenge his death. On his ways he meets a young woman and her family that gives him another reason to keep living.

Theodore - A bit of a schmuck and a hopeless romantic, he worked backstage at the theatre in the House of the Ruby Rose, a sort of temple/gambling house/high-end brothel deep in the Wasp King's domain. He falls madly in love with an actress and pines for her from the wings every night. Somehow his wildly flowing emotions unlocks an natural affinity for magic, but he has no training in the art and cannot control it. One night when the temple is attacked by the Wasp King's forces  Theodore uses his dangerous gift to try and save the woman's life, even if it may cost him his own...

So that's why I changed the name of "In the Shadow of the Wasp" to hopeless love, because all the stories were tales of people doing really dumb things for love...
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Friday, April 24, 2015

Characters You've Never Heard Of: ULRIC


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The guards let Paice through with barely a nod.  In many circles through the kingdom Paice held greater respect from the people than the king, and among the soldiers of the realm was one of those circles.  Those brave men of Sem who fought so desperately to defend their country would march into hell for their beloved commander, and Paice knew that many of them had.  He could not bring himself to think of all the men who had died under his command.  His superiors would point out that the enemy always lost five to ten times as many troops as Paice whenever he took the field,  but that was no consolation to the lord commander.  When he met Hades at the gates of the Under Realm—and he was quite certain that he would be recognized by the god himself for all the blood he had spilled—Paice knew he would have to answer for every one of the brave souls who had fallen under his watch.  He would agree to spend a hundred years in hellish torment for every one of them, if only the god of death would find it in his mercy to grant him just a few more hours with his precious little girl; to hold her one more time and to say the goodbyes to which he had been so violently denied.

Fresh tears were streaming down Paice’s cheek as he approached the throne across the vast marble floor.  Although his vision was clouded, the lord commander knew that King Ulric was not the man sitting on the throne before him.  King Ulric the Second would probably never sit on the silver throne of Sem again, and while the man seated there in his place did not currently wear the crown, he would very soon, and he would deserve it.

Prince Ambrose rose from his seat as Paice approached.  The lord commander did not bow. The half dozen guards at either side of the throne, dressed in polished silvered mail and carrying heavy shields and spears, must have seen the ridiculousness of a royal prince - the king’s own son - rising to greet a man who did not bow to him, but not a single one of them showed any hint of emotion at the strange occurrence.  It wait take far more than that to shake them;  Paice had trained them himself.

“My Lord Commander,” Ambrose said amicably, stepping down from the raised dais upon which sat the silver throne to look Paice level in the eye.  “I am glad to see you up and about.  Please believe me when I say the thoughts and prayers of my family and the entire kingdom go out to you now.”

Prince Ambrose was a handsome young man, with dark hair and complexion and a sturdy, royal bearing.  He looked like his father when his father was that age; an age which Paice remembered well.  Lord Paice had been no more than knight then, and Ambrose had been no more than babe suckling at his mother’s breast.  Now that tiny mewling child was fully grown and hardened by ten years of war on his doorstep and was about to become a king.  Paice had always respected and liked the young man, though right now Ambrose was just coming across to him like an ass.

“I do not need your thoughts and your prayers, your highness,” Paice said coldly. I need your army, he thought. “They serve me about as well as a piss pot would to besiege a castle.”

The slightest expression of insult flashed across the prince’s face, but Ambrose covered it admirably.  He was an even better diplomat than his father.  “Then please accept my own, personal condolences, Paice, from a man to a man.”

Paice nodded.  If anyone could understand his hardship, it was Ambrose. His sister had been taken the same night the Wasps killed Paice's daughter.  How a man half Paice's age could shoulder the burden better than he, Paice had no idea.  “How is your father, Ambrose?”

- excerpt from the unfinished novel "The Tears of Sem"

* * *

I had a tough time coming up with a "U," hence using a character that never actually appears in any of my manuscripts, having only been mentioned by other characters.

I've stumbled across some weird things while digging through old works for the A-to-Z exercise. One of those was a half-finished novel I wrote almost ten years ago that I had nearly forgotten about. It's an expanded version of "In the Shadow of the Wasp" I mentioned a few days ago, based on stories I wrote in high school. Ulric is the father of Anilita (the girl from the that linked story) and Ambrose (shown above). He's the king of a country about to be destroyed in a vicious, terrible war. He's lying on his death bed, poisoned by a traitor while his children struggle to hold the kingdom together. He doesn't appear in person in the manuscript I found, though his presence weighs heavily over numerous scenes.

Source
The story is set in the same world as "The Gate and Necromancer" that also came up a couple of times in the last few weeks. In fact, they're loosely part of the same, long story. Parts 2 and 5, if I were to guess. So there's yet another problem with ever finishing and releasing these stories: Of a potential 7-book cycle, I have book 5 finished and book 2 half-finished. What the hell am I supposed to do with that?

I also apologize because these posts are getting longer than I had anticipated, and I'm sure you all have better things to do that read hundreds of words of excerpts from unpublished novels.


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Thursday, April 23, 2015

Characters You've Never Heard Of: TOYMAKER


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“Seventy-fourt' floor,” The old man Clive announced as the elevator reached the designated level.  “Please enjoy yer stay in de storeroom of de Forbidden Gifts.”

“Okay, we’re looking for a portal," said the boy. "We don’t know what it looks like but we’re pretty sure it’s down here somewhere.  Do you know where it is?  Where we could find it?”

“I’m sorry, but not'ing down 'ere is mapped or catalogued,” Clive said sadly.  “It’s impossible to know wore anyt'ing is fer sure.  Only The Toymaker knows wore evert'ing is."

“What in blue blazes is the Toymaker?”

“De Toymaker used to own dis factory before de fairy queen.  'E made all de guardians, and all de Forbidden Gifts, too.”

“So he just sat around all day making these monstrous things?”

“Oh, no.  Most of what ‘e made was beautiful, and nice, and brought joy and ‘appiness.  ‘e just gave all of dose away.  De t’ings dat ‘e could not give away were left ‘ere.”

“I guess no one wants a bloody pair of human lungs,” Mookie said, sniffing at a very soggy-looking but brightly-wrapped box.

“Actually, an ast’matic would love a pair of fres’, ‘ealt’y lungs,” Clive corrected.  He adjusted his silly hat.  “People asked for all de gifts dat got left down ‘ere, ‘e just couldn’t give dem to dem.  Dat's woy der ‘Forbidden.’”

“So let me get this straight,” the girl said.  “There’s this Toymaker, and people ask him for presents, and he gives them to them just because he can?  Who is he, Santa Claus?”

“Dat’s wot ‘e’s called in some worlds, aye.”

The boy and girl froze.  Mookie looked unimpressed.

“We’re in Santa Claus’ toy factory?” The girl asked.

Formerly ‘is toy factory, aye.  As you already 'eard, he’s not 'ere anymore.”

* * *
The Toymaker is one of the antagonists in "The Revenge of the Sugar Plum Fairy," one of the books I wrote for my family (in case it's not obvious, it's the Christmas-themed one). In this one our heroes (my wife, myself and our pets) end up on a frozen world ruled by an evil fairy queen who has enslaved the true ruler of the world - the aforementioned Toymaker - who on the surface appears to be Santa Claus but turns out is an vile and unrepentant asshole. You see the whole reason he's trapped at the North Pole and forced to give away gifts to bring good to the world is because he's actually a monstrous demon who is being punished for his wickedness. Our heroes have to defeat both the queen and the Toymaker in order to get out of this nightmarish world.


I'm not afraid to say that this is perhaps my favourite thing I've ever written. It's ridiculous and over-the-top and more clever than I can generally imagine myself being. The Toymaker has a pair of bumbling demon lackeys called Sprocket and Wingnut who constantly screw up and get killed in progressively dumber and sillier ways (but are immortal and keep coming back). The reindeer are a bunch of jerk jocks who get into a fight 8 on 1 against the fat orange tabby cat. There's also an epic battle with a kaiju-sized snowman that I won't spoil here. I really am happy with it but it will probably never see the light of day because, again, it's about my wife and I and our talking magic elf cats. 

Oh well. It was still fun to write.
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Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Characters You've Never Heard Of: SKOLVUS


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"Of all the strange characters on this ship, it is the navigator who is the greatest mystery to me.  John Skolvus is perhaps not as mad at the Captain, but the bright glow of lunacy still flickers across his eyes like the sun on a still river.  Skolvus keeps the worst charts and notes I have ever seen.  I have read old texts in the tongue of the Arabian moors that make more sense to me than his scribbles.  His astrolabe is ancient, rusted and bent horribly out of alignment.  No man in their right mind would use it (I tried one day and it calculated true North being 3 degrees south of Iberia – and we were in Iceland at the time).  Yet both Pining and Corte-Real trust him without question.  He’s like a loyal dog for all the faith they put in him, and for the stench which wafts from him.  Skolvus is a little less bestial than the Germans, but barely.  If they are bears then he is some sort of wolf, a little smarter if smaller and less powerful, but possibly even more dangerous."
- from the unpublished short story "1473"

While is was generally accepted for a long time that Christopher Columbus was the first European to arrive in North America, that story was long ago proven to be full of shit. The vikings arrived on the shores of Newfoundland a full five hundred years before Columbus, which has been archeologically confirmed. There are also literally hundreds of stories (of varying degrees of plausibility) about other visitors to the "New World" pre-1492. Henry Sinclair, The Earl of Orkney is a popular one. The Scottish Baron supposedly visited North American a full hundred years before Columbus, which is claimed to be proven by the fact that he later built a chapel in Edinburgh that depicted maize (corn) in some of the carvings, a crop which should have been unknown in Europe at the time. There's the legend of Irish Saint Brendan, who crossed the Atlantic seeking Paradise in the 6th century, and tales back as far at the ancient Phoenicians visiting as early as 350 BC are floating around out there. It's quite possible that Columbus himself had traveled to the New World himself before 1492, which is how he convinced the Spanish government to fund his more famous expedition.

One particular tale that always caught my imagination was that of John Scolvus. Supposedly, in 1473 German privateers Didrik Pining and Hans Pothorst, along with with famed Portugese explorer Joao Vaz Corte-Real, sailed to the New World (probably Newfoundland) along with their navigator, John Scolvus. While there is no physical proof this journey took place, Pining, Porthost and Corte-Real are all real and famous people, and it's fascinating to imagine such a journey could have been possible. On the other hand, though he is mentioned in several texts, usually second- or third-hand and under contradictory names, there is no proof that a man named John Scolvus actually existed. Who is this mysterious and mythical figure that may have led famous sailors to a faraway land that (at the time) supposedly didn't exist?

In my fantastic-fiction version of the history of Newfoundland, a character named Skolvus very much exists, though he is equally mysterious and mercurial as his "real-world" namesake. He appears (so far) in one short story, a fictionalized re-telling of Pining and Corte-Real's 1473 journey that also features a few other famous faces. A great deal of mystery surrounds how he knows how to find the island (since he has obviously been there before) and where he goes after he reveals its location to others. He's not the main character in the piece, but he is important to the fictionalized history of the Isle and I suspect he will show his trickster face again.

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Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Characters You've Never Heard Of: RIGEL


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She did not know how long her eyes were closed.  She thought that perhaps she had died, for she heard nothing, felt nothing.  But then from somewhere she heard a voice calling to her.  At first it sounded far away, almost on the other side of the world. Then it became progressively louder as if it - no she - were moving up from within a deep hole.

“Excuse me, ma’am, are you all right?  It’s not safe out here alone.”

She opened her eyes.  Before her stood a man who was not much more than a boy, as he was younger than even she herself. No more than seventeen or eighteen winters had he seen, if she judged properly.  He was somewhat handsome, in a pitiful sort of way; he was dirty, dressed in tattered grey clothes, and his hair (was it blond? She really could not tell for the dirt) was uncut and unkempt.  His eyes, blue and sparkling, betrayed an innocence that proved he should not have been here any more than she.

“Miss?” the boy asked again, obviously worried.  “Are you all right?  Can you hear me?”

“I can hear you,” she said softly, after a long pause.  The words were broken, and she spoke them through trembling lips.  She realized she had not spoken for days.

“What are you doing out here all by yourself?” he asked, kneeling down next to her.  Now she could get a much better look at him.  An empty scabbard hung from his belt.  His eyes, so beautiful, were indeed full of concern for her.  But did he ever stink!

“I got lost,” she whispered, trying not to look into his eyes.  She realized that those eyes reminded her of her brother’s.  That was the way he had looked at her, always concerned and caring.

“I think you got more than lost,” he replied, and nodded at her.  She realized he must have been looking at the scars on the side of her neck.  She pulled the cloak up higher around her throat.

“It’s nothing,” she breathed.  Still not looking up, she asked him.  “Who are you?  What is your name?”

“Rigel,” he said simply, though with a slight flourish, as if the name should have inspired awe in its nobleness.

“Rigel,” she said, taking a quick glance at the boy’s slight smile.  “Before I answer you, answer me:  Why are you out here in these wastes?”

The boy stood up to his full height, and stuck out his chest proudly.  “I’m a warrior,” he said, smiling.  “I’ve been traveling around, righting wrongs, fighting for justice, battling the king’s forces in my own little one man vendetta.”

The girl laughed, despite herself.  It felt good, even though it hurt her lungs.  “A warrior?  Oh, Rigel, you’re just a boy . . . ”

Rigel choked, audibly, as if the girl had struck him.  “You don’t believe me?  I’ve slain three tens of goblins by my own hand!”

“With what?” she asked.  “You don’t even have a sword.”

“Bandits stole it from me,” he explained sheepishly, his eyes turning toward the earth.  “It was rather embarrassing so I’d rather not talk about it.”

“How could a warrior who claims to have killed thirty goblins let himself lose his sword to simple bandits?”

“They outnumbered me eight to one!” he exclaimed, holding out his hands, as if begging for her to understand.  “I could have handled six, maybe seven, but eight?  Even the best of us have our limits.  I was lucky to get away with my life!”

“Fine,” she said, shaking her head.  Finally, she looked up at him.  Why do his eyes have to be so beautiful?  “You can call yourself whatever you want, just help me get out of this miserable hell.”


 - from the unpublished short story "Shadow of the Wasp Part 1: Rigel & Anilita's Story"

* * * 

One of the first "serious" fantasy stories I wrote in high school featured a princess who had escaped the evil despot who had overthrown her father's kingdom and enslaved her people. On her desperate flight to escape she ran into a young ranger-type who helped her along in her journeys. Rigel was that young ranger.

Rigel is the first character I remember writing that showed any particular depth. Before then, all my stories featured one-dimensional basic archetypes (Knight! Hero! Wizard!) or my friends from school. Sometimes both. But Rigel was a real character with a backstory and flaws and a personality. He was a bastard orphan who had survived in the desert for years all alone, seemingly by pure luck and good fortune. He fell in love with the princess, Anilita, and did his best to keep her alive but continuously screwed up and put them in more and more danger. He kept making these grandiose claims that he was a mighty warrior, but kept proving himself to be utterly incompetent in the face of danger. This of course made Anilita all the more frustrated with him, and she ended up saving his life more than he did hers.

In the end he of course redeems himself, but because she is a princess and he is a poor member of the untouchable class they cannot be together. I actually wrote four stories at the same time that dealt with similar themes of hopeless or unrequited love (I was a goofy romantic in high school - see the original cover at the bottom of this post). These stories however hold a special place in my heart because I wrote them around the time I started dating the young lady who would one day become my wife and mother of my children. They were one of the first things I shared with her, and she really like them (or claimed she did). I maintain that those stories helped her fall in love with me, proving that I was a sensitive type of guy she could see herself with.

So yeah, in a roundabout way "Rigel's Story" landed me my wife and my children. I don't care how cheesy and juvenile it is in retrospect - it's still the best thing I've ever written.

I've actually gone back and forth on the title between In the Shadow of the Wasp" and "Hopeless Love."
I've always had a teenager's flair for silly romantic drama.

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Monday, April 20, 2015

Characters You've Never Heard Of: QUEEN MOTHER ESMIRALDA


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Nathlan awoke in darkness.  He started and sat up from the soft bed upon which he lay.  Pain shot through his chest, he groaned, and slumped back down.  Where was he?

A candle flickered to light not far away.  A beautiful woman stepped into view holding a long, thin white taper, which she placed on the bedside next to Nathlan’s head.

It was Esmiralda.  She was dressed in a gorgeous green gown, cut scandalously low across her breasts, and dagged with silver across the long, flowing arms.  Her silky black hair hung loose and full around her soft, pale face, a face which looked concerned and slightly relieved.

“You’re awake,” the Queen Mother said softly.

Nathlan did not answer right away.  He was staring too intently at Esmiralda.

“Try not to move.  You are still in the palace.  Your wounds were serious, but we have nearly healed them.”

“Merryck stabbed me,” Nathlan said, the memories flooding back into his mind.  They came in pieces, broken and incomplete.  He did not remember very much after they entered the Vault, except that there was a battle, and Merryck had stabbed him in the chest with his sword.  Was it an accident?  Had the priest made it look like an accident?  “Why did he stab me?”

The Queen Mother nodded sadly.  “I do not know.  There is treachery afoot in this kingdom, and I don’t know who to trust anymore.”

Nathlan remembered, not long ago, speaking with Esmiralda in a garden somewhere in this palace.  He did not remember the exact details of their conversation, nor the face of the man who was there with them, but he remembered vividly that he had fallen in love with the Queen Mother that day.  He had not admitted it to himself before now, could not have admitted it, for what chance did he, a lowly son of a fisherman, have with the mother of the King of Yenrah?

Now, lying here, gazing into her beautiful face, at the perfect lines of her neck, her shoulders, her breasts, he felt something stir inside him.  He could not fight it anymore, could not hide it.

“You can trust me,” Nathlan said.

The Queen Mother smiled.  Nathlan felt his breath quicken, and his heart pounded harder to push thickening blood through his damaged body.  “I think I can, good Sir Nathlan.”

“Sir?” Nathlan asked, confused.

“If you are to be my trusted confident, you must be more than a lowly foot soldier,” explained the Queen Mother, placing her hand on the young man’s forehead. “Mina ‘ukea kiros sina,” she spoke in the old tongue, the words which every soldier and man-at-arms knew but few were fortunate enough to hear.  They were the words which could be spoken only by another knight or royal, words which by ancient law could raise any man or woman to the title of knight, and the chance to forge a better life for themselves.

Nathlan felt tears well up in his eyes.  “Your Majesty, I don’t know what to say,”  She was so beautiful.  “What can I do to honour you, and prove to you that you have made the right decision?”

“I fear Merryck is in league with these agents who plot to overthrow my son.  I don’t know the details of who is involved, or what they want, but I cannot wait any longer to find out.  Merryck needs to die.”

“I will kill him for you, Your Majesty,” Nathlan replied.  He did not know why he responded so quickly.  He had never actually killed anyone before.  But somehow, he knew he could kill Merryck.  For some reason, he had a deep, unrelenting hatred of the man, though he could not explain why.  More importantly, Esmiralda wanted him to do it, and he could not displease his mistress.

“Good,” Esmiralda said.  “Do it swiftly.  He will lead the mercenaries to the top of the mountain tomorrow morning.  They must not make it to the gate.”

-excerpt from the unpublished novel "Gate and Necromancer"

* * *
Source
In the back story of my aforementioned epic fantasy novel that will probably never see the light of day, the kingdom was saved many years ago by Wilhelm the Liberator, a man born an outcast and a half-blood to a race of untouchable desert-dwellers. When he died his son took over the thone but was not half the man his father was. He coasted on the fame and good will of his father, and then died under unusual circumstances. Some say his wife Esmiralda murdered him, either for having an affair or so that her son would ascend to the throne and she could control him and rule at his side.

In the novel, Esmiralda is a 50-60 year old woman who looks 25, and is a dangerous and powerful sorceress. She has made dark pacts with powerful forces to maintain her youth and magic, and may be in direct cahoots with the main villain, though her treachery is always done in secret and at arm's length - she would never risk exposing herself by opposing the heroes directly.

Now that I think about it she's a pretty stereotypical evil queen kind of character, which I suppose is not a bad thing but she is strikingly one-dimensional compared to some of the other characters in the story, who I tried really hard to make more complex than your standard fantasy tropes. I may have to seriously revisit her character and motivations if I ever do a revision on that manuscript.

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Saturday, April 18, 2015

Characters You've Never Heard Of: PIKE THE NAVIGATOR


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Pike was not a man to be admired or remembered.  He was of only average height and intelligence, though his family’s moderate standing in his homeland allowed him better education than most.  He wasted it of course, as he did most of his opportunities, forever as he was plagued by the desire to want what he did not have, and to not appreciate that which he did.

A noted writer and scientist of little skill (as well as a notoriously failed womanizer), Pike relied on others to succeed, conveniently choosing to ride the coattails of those of low intelligence and ambitions but insipid good fortunes and untapped potential.  Following this line of reasoning proved faulty, however, when Pike signed up as navigator for Captain Easton.

Easton feigned ignorance much like Pike feigned competence.  Pike should have known better than to think he could use a man hired by the Queen herself as a privateer in the Royal Navy, but his common sense, much like his uncanny good luck, was unpredictably irregular.

They were only a few hours out to sea when Captain Easton asked Pike, quite straight-faced, “You’ve never been a navigator before, have you Pike?” The veteran officer cut a dashing figure, exuding confidence and charm.

“No, Sir.  I took a course in Astronomy in college.”  Pike replied, exuding oil from his porous face and sweat from his palms.

“Have you ever been on a ship before, Pike?”

“Yes, Sir.”  Pike exuded his lunch over the rail into the blue sea below.  “No, Sir.”

“Escorting fishing ships is not the most glamorous way to make your fortune, my boy, but sometimes it can lead to bigger and brighter things.  Like that Dutch frigate coming up over the horizon.”

Pike adjusted his spectacles.  He could barely make out the blurry outline of a boat, miles and miles away, let alone the colors of its flag.

“What do you plan to do?” Pike asked.

“Why, board the ship, of course.  See if there’s anything worth taking.”

“But we’re supposed to be escorting the fishing ships.  We’re not pirates.  And the last time I checked, the Dutch were not our enemies.”

“Aye, but they’re allies of the Spaniards and that’s close enough for me.  Let this be your first lesson in sailing, Pike.  When the Queen puts you to sea with a 30-gun warship, her lips may say ‘escort,’ but her heart says ‘sink the bastards.’”

- from the unpublished short story "The Emerald Princess"

* * *

Pike is the bumbling, useless dolt from Nageira's story, the guy who somehow ends up marrying the princess and becoming King despite being a totally hopeless dipwad. He's based on a real person (or at least, a real "legendary" person) Gilbert Pike, who according to legend was the husband of Sheila Nageira. According to other stories his name could have been Nicholas Guy, but I think Pike is a way better name for a bumbling idiot.

Pike fits into my second-favourite character archetype after the "asshole who somehow does good." He's the wishy-washy, pathetic coward who has no special attributes and knows he's useless and runs away from danger more often than not, but in the end somehow still ends up saving the day. He's Rincewind, he's C-3P0. He's worse than Fitz, Fitz is just pathetically average. Pike has no obviously good qualities or even mediocre qualities. He's bad at literally everything he does, and yet somehow he still ends up saving the day and getting the girl.


Have you noticed yet that I'm not big on stereotypical heroes with big muscles, square chins and suave attitudes? Or even dark, brooding tortured characters? I like ordinary people, or even better less-than-ordinary people, stupid people and selfish people. They're way more interesting characters and it's much more satisfying when they do something right and good in the end.



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Friday, April 17, 2015

Characters You've Never Heard Of: OULETTE


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He rode down from the hills, his coat and boots stained with blood.  His fingers were scarred from burns sustained loading bullets into the red-hot chambers of his revolver. He had only two shotgun shells and a half-dozen .45 cartridges left.  He had broken both his tomahawks. Still, he was alive. It was a good day.

It was late afternoon when he reached the town, a village in the middle of nowhere too new to appear on any map. A pair of boys rushed out to meet the stranger, but turned tail and ran even quicker.  The stranger laughed. He looked like death, he knew, and in moments word that a half-dead bloody gunfighter was rolling into town would be on everyone's lips. He had not bothered to be subtle for he knew there were no secrets in a small town like this.

He hitched his horse outside the lone tavern on the dusty town's lone street and strolled in without hesitation. He ignored the eyes of the locals boring into him as he crossed the boot-worn floor to the bar.  The stranger was of average height and build, showing no particular distinguishing characteristics besides the blood and dust on his clothes.  He dropped his rucksack beside him.  He sat on a stool and felt the twinge in his back that had been giving him trouble since Abraham, and he put a scarred, bloody hand on the polished bar top.  When it came away a silver dollar glinted up at the barkeep.

The man behind the counter was a thick, burly man with cautious eyes and more hair on his big arms and broad shoulders than the top of his head. "What'll you have?" he asked, quickly pocketing the coin. The stranger knew he was the kind of man who had seen trouble before - and wasn't afraid to do something about it. There was probably an axe handle or club under the bar, if not a saw-offed twelve gauge.

"Food," the stranger said, and his thick accent drew even more attention. "And keep the whiskey coming."

"A Frenchman?" the barkeep asked, filling a shot glass.  "Looks like you had some trouble on the road.  Indians?"

"Something like that," the stranger replied, and slammed back the drink.  The barkeep topped it back up.

"We had some folks from Par-ee pass through on their way to San Francisco a while back. You don't look much like them."

"I'm Canadian," he said.

"Well I'll be damned. We got us an honest-to-goodness French Canadian up in here." The barkeep smiled at some of the locals.  "You folks a real country yet?"

- excerpt from the unpublished short story "Dead West"

* * * 

Source
I love zombies. I also discovered a few years ago that I somehow inherited my father's genetic disposition toward westerns (who knew Louis L'Amour was hereditary?). I also (also?) love to shoe-horn in some Canadiana wherever I can. So that's why I came up with Honoré Oulette, a French-Canadian Cowboy Zombie Hunter.

Inspired by a story in Max Brook's wonderful Zombie Survival Guide about a mysterious zombie hunter who travels the wild west putting down zombie outbreaks, Honoré is exactly that, but he's from Quebec. I thought the idea of a French Canadian gunfighter was a nice blend and contrast to the genre. France allied with America during the Revolutionary War, so there was also that nice background that Honoré could lord over the backward hicks of the towns he visited. He's a weird, distrusted and exotic foreigner that everyone shies away from, but when the shit hits the fan he's the only one they can turn to for protection.

In reality it's probably better in theory than execution, because I wrote one story and remember absolutely nothing about it. It was pretty lame. Maybe I'll have to revisit it some time.

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Thursday, April 16, 2015

Characters You've Never Heard Of: NAGEIRA


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Prisoners on a foreign ship without a mast in the middle of the sea, the Irish could not put up much of an argument.  Only one young woman raised her voice against Captain Easton.

“You cold-hearted bastard,” the raven-haired young beauty bellowed, jabbing her finger into Easton's broad chest.  “My people have been at sea for weeks, Captain.  You’re only a few hours from the British coast and you would rather drag these people across the sea rather than bring them to safety?  What an evil, wretched man you are.”

“My lady, I place you and your folk not much higher in my books than the Spaniards and the Dutch themselves, and I just killed several dozen of them.” Easton responded quite calmly to the girl’s tirade.  “And just who do you think you are, anyway?”

“She’s Princess Nageira!” put in a scrappy old man with no teeth.  The black-haired woman shot him a nasty glare in return.

“Princess?” Easton sneered.  “Princess of what?”

“Of Ireland, you fat bastard!” the old man spat.

“Someone do something useful and throw that man overboard.” Easton ordered nonchalantly.

“You would not dare,” Nageira fumed, her blue eyes burning.

“Your people will like the Granite Isle, Princess,” Easton said with a smile, wrapping a huge arm around the small woman’s shoulders.  “There’s good honest work to be had for those with strong backs and tough spirits.  And they won’t have to give their earnings to the church or the government, because there’s neither.  Then again, maybe we could set up our own little government?  I always wanted to be royalty.”

Nageira gently but very deliberately removed the Captain’s arm from her shoulders.  “You disgust me, Captain.  To look upon you makes my eyes burn as if someone rubbed them with salty nettles.  To have you touch me turns my stomach more than if a diseased rat crawled across my face, vomited into my mouth and sat on my nose until I swallowed it.”

Easton took it all in stride.  He laughed a deep, jolly laugh that warmed one’s soul—much like sticking one’s feet into a stoveful of hot coals.  “Get these fine people on board our ships.  Make sure they’re comfortable.” He delegated the task of organization to his first officer, then turned back to Princess Nageira.  “It’s a long way to the Granite Isle.  You’ll come around, my pretty.  You’ll come around.”

On their third day at sea Nageira attempted to stab Easton with a rusted harpoon.  He took it all in good humor, even when Nageira swore the next time she got close to him she was going to gouge out his eyeballs with a fork and eat them with a plate of salt fish.  

-from the unpublished short story, "The Emerald Princess"

* * * 
There is a legend that Sheila Nageira was the first European woman to give birth in the New World on the island of Newfoundland sometime in the early 1600s. It is said she was an Irish Princess, captured by a Dutch privateer on her way home from studying in a convent in France, and was subsequently rescued by famed English Privateer Peter Easton. Easton was on his way to the New World and took the freed prisoners with him, and during the voyage the princess fell in love with Easton's lieutenant Gilbert Pike, and they stayed in Newfoundland and raised a family.

There is absolutely no historical basis of truth in the tale (except for Easton, who was indeed a famed privateer who later turned pirate and was known to frequently ply the waters off Newfoundland), but it's a great story. I thought it was a great basis for my own story of the mythical and slightly fictionalized history of Newfoundland.

I've long ago conceived of a grand epic tale detailing the fantasical history of Newfoundland. I've written a few short stories laying the groundwork, of which "The Emerald Princess" was the first. In my version, Nageira becomes the first Queen of Newfoundland, eventually setting off a long war of rebellion against the Crown Across the Sea.

Sheila NaGeira Theatre, Carbonear, Newfoundland

It's taken me so long to write this tale that another Newfoundland writer has written his own book called Nageira, but his seems to be a more typical historical fiction. His story doesn't have magic, sea dragons and leprechauns as far as I can tell, which I think makes mine automatically many times better.


This is the actual cover for the only copy of "The Emerald Princess" in existence. I painted it myself. As I've said time and time again, I'm not much of an artist, but this was from a phase in my early twenties when I pretended to be (going to Theatre school and taking numerous art classes kinda pushed me in that direction).
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Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Characters You've Never Heard Of: MOOKIE BOOTS


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The King was an old man, wizened and more than a little senile.  He was mostly cared for by his beautiful daughter Beatrix, who was just waiting for the old fart to keel over so she could inherit the throne.

Mookie (standing precariously on his hind legs in gaudy red boots) was presented to the king, with Hercules sitting attentively by his side.  The miller's son stood off to the side trying to blend into the ornately ugly wallpaper. The knights showed the king the brace of rabbits the animals had poached.

“You were stealing my bunnies?” asked the king, his voice frail and annoying.

“No, your majesty, they are a gift,” Mookie explained, thinking quickly.
“What?”

“A gift, father,” said Beatrix, sitting at her father’s side.

“Oh, I like presents,” nodded the old man.

“I caught them for you, your majesty, in the name of my master, the Marquis de, um, er, Mill.

“Oh, yes, de Umbermill,” said the king, nodding.  “Fine young fellow.  He’s French, right?”

“Yes, yes, as a croissant in a striped shirt.  He has lands bordering on yours.”

“Really?  What a coincidence.”

“Father,” interrupted Beatrix.  “There are no Umbermill’s with lands bordering ours.”

“Oh, dear, there are so many uprisings and treasonous murders I can’t keep track of everyone.  If he says they have lands I’m sure they do.  Anyway, my good sir, I do appreciate your gift but unfortunately I’m not so fond of rabbits.”

Mookie saw his opening.  “Really?  That’s too bad.  Then what does my liege crave?”

“I am partial to partridges.”

“Consider it done, your majesty.”

“Excellent!”  The king clapped his hands like a giddy little school boy.  “If you can bring me a partridge, I shall reward you handsomely!”

“Father!” snapped Beatrix.  “You can have all the partridges you want!  Why would you…”

“Shut up child before I send you back to the brothel with your mother.”


-from the unpublished short story "Mookie Boots"

* * * 

A play on Puss-in-Boots, Mookie Boots is a cat in my fictional universe where my wife and I travel to other worlds going on all manner of adventures, including fighting goblins and dragons, battling zombies and pirates, dueling faeries and ghosts and matching wits with an evil Santa Claus. Basically all the stories involve us fighting some manner of magical creature with the help of our magical pets.

Mookie is a small black talking elf cat that can cast magic spells. He's a huge jerk but he's our jerk, which is why we keep him around. He's also very handy in a fight and wears red boots, hence the name. His "brother" Sam is a fat orange talking elf cat, who is dumb but kindhearted. We're also joined by our Cavalier King Charles Spaniel Hercules, who can't talk but has supernatural, Incredible Hulk-like strength and can fly.

The story of the five of us has spanned five novels and a half-dozen short stories. I doubt anyone will ever read them besides my family unless I do some major re-writes, but they're there in The Closet and may some day see the light of day.


The real Mookie, my cat that Mookie Boots is based on, passed away suddenly last year after 14 years with our family. We had him from a kitten (a very tiny kitten - the place we adopted him from gave us an undersized runt and told us he probably wouldn't survive) and he traveled with us back and forth across the country and lived with us through many ups and downs. I haven't written any more stories about the animals since then and I don't know if I will. I'm having trouble distancing the "character" Mookie from the "real" Mookie. They kind of exist as the same person in my head now. I'm still waiting for Sam to tell me he misses his brother.



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Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Characters You've Never Heard Of: LUCIUS DAÉE


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My partner and I are a hell of a team.  I do all the talking, and when that doesn’t work, I like to do all the rough stuff.  If that still doesn’t work, then my partner does all the messy stuff.

My name is Reverend Lucius Daée and I am a problem solver.  I specialize in doing the dirty jobs that rich, important people don’t want to soil themselves with.  Some people call me a criminal, a hitman, a bounty hunter.  I prefer “problem solver” because I make inconveniences go away for my employers.  In that way, I guess I’m something like a housekeeper or a cook; except that my talents are very uncommon and very expensive.

Some people call my partner a psychopath, and I wouldn’t argue with them.

My partner, Rand, and I are in Las Vegas on a job.  We’re dressed to the nines in thousand dollar suits—mine’s a pristine white silk deal, Rand’s in jet black, as always.  We both wear mirrored shades, even in the middle of the night.  In Vegas the lights are bright enough you can get away with it.
We pull up in front of the casino in our silver Caddy.  It’s a rental and I’m driving—whenever I pick out the car it’s always a Cadillac or a Mercedes.  Rand says I look like a pimp but I don’t care, that’s my style.  He always picks out these tiny little sports cars that I can barely fit in without my knees pressed up to my chin.

We step out and I toss the keys to the valet.  The new Metropolis Resort spreads out before us like a glowing neon spider.  It’s the biggest hotel/casino of its kind on the face of the planet, with six wings spreading out across something crazy like sixty acres.  It’s owned by a Mister Donny Arab, the richest and slickest sleaze bucket in the real estate business, and he’s paying Rand and me a lot of money to be here tonight.

The guy at the door, a proper-looking old British butler-type, recognizes me and smiles broadly.  He used to work at one of Arab’s other resorts.  He knows that whenever I’m in town, the casino’s going to make a killing.  Not from me, mind you, but from all the stupid schmucks who see me winning hand after hand then throw their life-savings away hoping to ride my luck.  I’ve seen it a hundred times and I can guarantee you that my skill and luck is not the kind that rubs off.  Some people call it the “Devil’s Own Luck.”  Me, I prefer to call it “Sister Isaac Josephine’s Own Luck,” after the crazy old nun that blessed me as a child.  I don’t quite know if her prayers actually did anything, but you’ll never hear me complain about it, either.  My luck is that kind that rubs everyone else the wrong way—it keeps me alive and my enemies dead.

That’s my other passion in life, besides my job.  I’m a gambler.  Roulette, craps, hell, even betting on horses, I’ll do it all.  But my favourite is poker—where you can watch the other guy’s eyes across the table, and wondering if he’s got that one lucky card that’s going to break you or send you home a rich man.  There’s a thrill and a rush in those games unlike anything else in the world.  It’s better than sex, and it’s almost as good as killing a man.

Or so Rand tells me.  For me, poker is better.

- from the unpublished short story "Sister Isaac Josephine's Own Luck"

* * *

Not exactly Lucius, but hopefully you get what I'm going for

The Doctor Reverend Lucius Daée is a character that appeared in a single short story that I thought had the presence for a longer tale but thus far hasn't worked out.

He's very loosely based on a guy I actually knew - a huge, fast-talking man of indeterminate East-Indian/Pakistani descent who looks like a giant brown Elvis impersonator. He's a fast-dealing, high-rolling, slick-dressing gambler and con man with a heart of gold. He and his partner, Randolph "Rand" Knight (Knight and Daée, get it?) travel the world getting into trouble and solving crimes as part of their own two-man private investigation / body guard / smuggling organization, taking whatever kind of odd jobs paid the bills.

The gimmick was twofold:  One, Lucius' partner Rand was a thin creepy albino who rarely spoke, which provided a nice contrast, and he was also a bit of a psychotic lunatic who loved to do the dirty work which someone of Lucius' grace and sensibilities would prefer not to sully his hands with. While not actually a real reverend - or a doctor - Lucius would carry himself as a hoity-toity man of peace who would not dare to harm another of God's creatures. Of course, that was bullshit too, but it made for a fun character trait.

Two, the cases they took on were usually supernatural in nature. They were like demon-crime busters, which may have been taking a silly concept one step too far. Still, I love the idea of the duo and hope I can reuse them some day in some capacity. It's quite possible they may run into Fitz and Dee someday, we'll see how it goes.

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Monday, April 13, 2015

Characters You've Never Heard Of: K.D. BACCHUS


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FATHER ROBERT: What in the world...

[The "nun" whips off her habit, revealing the battered, bruised K.D. Bacchus beneath.  He's still shirtless, dressed in his black tights and wrestling boots.  His blond hair is matted with blood, but he's smiling like an idiot.  He grabs the priest's hand and shakes it vigorously.]

BACCHUS: Father Bob! Pleasure to meet you!  The sisters told me so much about you.

FATHER ROBERT: What is the meaning of this!?

MOTHER SARAH: He was a kind, lost soul we picked up in the chaos of the mob, Father.  It was only Christian for us to lend him a helping hand.

FATHER ROBERT: Don't you think it's rather unseemly for a bus full of sisters to be traveling with a... [He looks Bacchus up and down, appraising him.] handsome, sweaty half-naked man?

MOTHER SARAH: But Father, he is the guardian angel I told you about it!  He helped protect us more than once as we made our way through the riot.  We only dressed him in the habit to sneak him across the border, as he lost his belongings and identification in the chaos.

BACCHUS: Don't worry, Padre, I repaid the sister's Christian charity ten fold, believe me.

[The nuns shuffle their feet.  Someone giggles.]

FATHER ROBERT: Son, we do not expect repayment for... wait, what are you talking about?

BACCHUS: Don't judge them too harshly, Bobby. Most of these women haven't been with a man in years, if ever.  After being stuck on a bus with such a fine specimen as myself for hours, I'm sure even big J.C. would approve of what happened.

[The nuns look really embarrassed now.  One of them hides her face.  All of them look down at the ground.  Several are praying, but the giggles are now growing louder, too.]

FATHER ROBERT:  Are you... are you implying you had relations with the sisters?

BACCHUS: I know you might find it hard to believe, but there are real women under those shapeless dresses.  You've probably forgotten what to do with them after all these years, but if you just pretend they're altar boys...

FATHER ROBERT:  ALL OF THEM??

BACCHUS: No, no, not quite.  Sister Nicola isn't into sausage, but fortunately Sister Eleanor swings both ways, so she took care of her and I just watched.

* * * 

Two fake wrestlers in a row, but that's just the way the letters fell.

K.D. Bacchus is one of my favourite characters, period. He's another classic example of "asshole done good," but he's played the range from villain to hero depending on the situation. No matter what the incarnation though, he's always a self-centered, oblivious, narcissistic drug- and sex-addict. He's over the top and self-destructive, but he has a good side that makes him lovable in a frustrating way.

He's the kinda guy you either want to f*ck or punch in the face.
He can go either way.

The excerpt above if when he snuck aboard a bus full of nuns to escape a riot after a wrestling show. He's had a violent, mortal feud with another wrestler when Bacchus left his dog with the other guy's girlfriend and then the guy gave it to his grandmother to take care of. Bacchus got the dog back but was incensed that it smelled like old lady. He also went through a phase where he was obsessed with bedding Kate Middleton, and may or may not be the father of Prince George.

His issues seem to stem from his family problems. His mother died when he was young and his father kicked him out of the house. He traveled the world learning his trade as a wrestler but eventually returned home penniless, and still his father wouldn't let him back. He lived on the street for awhile until he was picked up by a kindly old man named Pete, who tried to put the wild young man back on the straight and narrow. Bacchus took advantage of his generosity but still came to respect Pete as he was the only father figure he had. That didn't mean he listened to him any better than a real father, but at least Pete was there to bail him out of jail and to keep him from getting himself killed.

Bacchus is very much the inspiration for the Fitz' best friend Dee in my current work in progress. In that version he's not a famous, world traveled superstar but just a lowly wannabe who is really good  in the ring but held back by his own bad decisions and zeppelin-sized ego.  He's just as much of a screw-up as Fitz if not more so, but the difference is that Fitz recognizes he's a loser while Dee thinks he's the shit. He's an idiot and a jerk but he's so much fun to write.
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Saturday, April 11, 2015

Characters You've Never Heard Of: JOHNNY BISHOP


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~September 6, 1978.~
  
 The crowd was dispersing from the cinema after the film, animatedly discussing Gary Busey's portrayal of Buddy Holly.  Most agreed he had done a bang-up job - he was certain for an Academy Award nod for that performance.
  
 It was a cool but beautiful late summer evening. Two couples - Paul and Linda and Keith and Annette, exited the theatre from the backstage door to avoid the reporters and autograph hounds gathered in the lobby.  They quickly walked down an alley and across the street, hoping not to be recognized.
  
 "Blimey, that was a fine film," Paul said cheerfully.
  
 "Indeed!" agreed Linda.  "That Busey fellow shall go far!"
  
 The other man, Keith, was looking haggard.  He was leaning heavily on his girlfriend Annette, who looked embarrassed in her pretty dress with her disheveled, red-eyed man hanging off of her. 
  
 "Are you all right, mate?" Paul asked.
  
 "He's just drunk," Annette groaned in a thick Swedish accent.  "We should go home and let him sleep it off."
  
 "Oh, we hoped you would join us for dinner!" Linda exclaimed.  "We have reservations at Peppermint Park!  Please, it would be lovely if you come out with us."
  
 Paul looked at the other man with concern.  He knew Keith, and knew he could out drink an entire pub full of Irishmen.  The man looked ill, not drunk.  But the women would not be reasoned with.
  
 "That's sounds fabulous!" Annette agreed.  "Keith, pull yourself together."
  
 Keith nodded and trudged along behind the others as they headed across Covent Garden toward the restaurant.  They had walked for about five minutes, chatting about the film and music and mutual friends before Paul noticed the odd-looking fellow skulking along behind them.
  
 "Damn it." He grumbled.  "That's the wrestler again, isn't it?"
  
 "Why you give him the time of day, Keith, I'll never know." Annette harrumphed.
  
 "Oy, he's not that bad," Keith replied.
  
 The stalker - a short, thin fellow in a jogging suit with the hood pulled up - approached them with his hands in his pockets.  He kept looking over his shoulder as if he was afraid he was being followed.  When he got closer, they could tell he had deep bags under his eyes, his skin was sallow and his breath reeked of booze and dead things.  He looked nearly as bad as Keith.
  
 "Ev’nin boys.  Ladies." He spoke curtly, nervously.
  
 "Evening," Paul replied, looking down his nose.
  
 The hooded man glanced around again.  "Keith mate, can we talk?"
  
 Annette rolled her eyes, but Keith staggered off a few feet to talk privately with the other man while his friends waited impatiently.  "What's up, Johnny?" He asked.
  
 "Your friends don't like me very much, do they?"
  
 "They think wrestlers are filthy meatheads, criminals and drug addicts. No better than gypsies, really."
  
 "Aye, and musicians are better?"
  
 Keith smiled.  "No, no I suppose not.  What d’ye need, Johnny?"
  
 "Blues, mescaline, whatever the fuck ye got, man.  I've got the shakes, Keith, I need something - anything - bad."
  
 "Christ, Johnny, what happened to your dealer?  Most people don't go asking famous rock stars for drugs.  People usually give us drugs."
  
 Johnny kept looking over his shoulder.  "I owe Mickey two thousand quid.  And I busted Big Jim's girlfriend's nose so he cut me off, too.  I don't know anyone else, Keith."
  
 Keith shook his head sadly.  He'd been there. "Jesus. Look, I don't got nothing on me, okay?  Meet me at me flat in about 2 hours.  Nine Curzon Place at Shepherd Market.  Number 12."
  
 Johnny looked relieved.  "Thank ye, mate.  You're a saint!"
  
 "Yeah, just don't get yourself killed before then, okay?"
  
 Keith started to walk away, back toward his impatient friends.  Johnny called out after him.  "Hey Keith!  You look like shit, man."
  
 "So do you, ye dumb cunt."

* * * 

He's the first of two fake wrestlers to appear on the list.

Johnny "Bishop" in the 1970s
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I won't deny it, I've participated in fantasy wrestling games on and off for years. It's really just an extended writing exercise. You create a character, then write short chapters of their life how they deal with the other characters they encounter in their wrestling world (their opponents, partners, etc). Sometimes it's a simple as writing interviews or promos about how you're going to beat your opponent's ass at the next show, other times its long adventures of how your character is fighting terrorists to rescue their kidnapped kids.

Johnny Bishop was loosely modeled after a real British wrestler named Johnny Saint, but his life is a little more... weird. Bishop was born at the end of WWII, grew up poor and got into wrestling to find money and glory. In his twenties he found a small amount of success but also got into drugs and the swinging 60s party scene. He rubbed elbows with famous musicians and artists, and became good friends with The Who's Keith Moon.

The day before Moon died, he asked Johnny to do him a favour: Steal his remains and smoke his ashes. (Come on, you know Keith Moon would be into something like that) Bishop did, and spent the next thirty years slowly smoking little sprinkles of the legendary drummer, especially before big matches. He became very successful and eventually came to believe that the ashes were what gave him his power and allowed him to win.

Johnny today
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Bishop managed to stretch his supply for decades, but eventually he ran out and became obsessed with finding more. Though he was in his sixties and probably should have retired, some bad investments had left him broke and penniless and he had to keep wrestling to survive, and thus he convinced himself he needed more ashes to help him through it. He just need another drug-soaked dead rock star to power his comeback.

So, he stole Amy Winehouse's body and took her to a magical island in the Gulf of Mexico, but before he could incinerate her corpse the island brought her back to life.

Bishop ultimately got her pregnant and she gave birth to a son, who he named Keith Moon Bishop. And there was some wrestling mixed in here and there.

I should really write this into a full length proper story.

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